The Supreme Court may finally have killed the zombie-like CDC eviction moratorium after voting 6-3 to end it.
The eviction moratorium, begun by the CDC last year as a dubious means to fight the spread of the coronavirus, was declared dead in June after the high court declared it unconstitutional. The court allowed the program to continue until its expiration date on July 31.
But Biden resurrected it after radicals went on the warpath and threatened to blow up his agenda if he didn’t do something about it.
Knowing that it would probably be declared unconstitutional again, Biden reimposed the ban anyway.
The major constitutional issue was deceptively simple: Did the Centers for Disease Control have the authority to regulate interstate commerce and impose a ban on evictions nationwide without the approval or consent of Congress?
When you put it like that, it’s sort of obvious, isn’t it?
“It would be one thing if Congress had specifically authorized the action that the CDC has taken. But that has not happened,” the Court majority wrote in an unsigned opinion.
The majority held that the statute the CDC cited when implementing the moratorium, section 361(a) of the Public Health Service Act, does not grant the CDC authority to halt evictions.
“The CDC has imposed a nationwide moratorium on evictions in reliance on a decades-old statute that authorizes it to implement measures like fumigation and pest extermination,” the opinion continued. “It strains credulity to believe that this statute grants the CDC the sweeping authority that it asserts.”
“The bulk of the constitutional scholars say it’s not likely to pass constitutional muster,” Biden said of the new moratorium when he reimposed the ban on August 3. But he went ahead anyway and willingly defied the law to do so.
He added, “By the time it gets litigated, it will probably give some additional time while we’re getting that $45 billion out to people who are in fact behind in the rent and don’t have the money.”
The problem with that statement is that most of that $45 billion is still sitting in the coffers of state governments because most of them haven’t figured out a way to disburse the cash easily and with a minimum of paperwork.
You can’t blame the states for complicating matters after the fraud circus that accompanied the extended unemployment compensation program. Federal law enforcement officials are still tallying up the damage done by criminal gangs and state actors, but the total stolen from taxpayers will end up being well north of $100 billion dollars.
So whatever grace period was supplied by the moratorium to give states time to get their act together and disburse the $45 billion already appropriated for rental assistance was wasted because states haven’t been able to figure out how to hand out the money in an efficient and careful way.
Meanwhile, landlords — most of whom are small business owners and are still paying for their rental units’ maintenance and mortgage — are owed thousands of dollars by some tenants. While advocates warn of large numbers of renters being thrown out into the streets, landlords have a different perspective.
“If there’s going to be a tsunami of anything, there’s a tsunami of debt out there,” said Bob Pinnegar, president and CEO of the National Apartment Association.
Indeed, many states have extended their own bans on evictions while others give renters access to state programs to help people stay in their rental spaces. There’s not going to be a huge wave of evictions by greedy landlords looking for the opportunity to throw people to the curb. That’s simply nonsense promulgated by activists who want to scare Congress into keeping the ban in place.
Hopefully, the Supreme Court has driven a stake through the eviction ban’s heart and it will never rise again.